With an underage boy now king of England, Henry VI, Part 1 depicts the collapse of England's role in France, as English nobles fight each other instead of the French and as Joan la Pucelle (Joan of Arc) brings military strength to the French army. The English hero Lord Talbot attacks Orleans, but is defeated by Joan.
In England, Gloucester, Henry VI’s Protector, and Gloucester's rival Winchester encourage their followers to attack each other in the streets. Richard Plantagenet (later the Duke of York) and Somerset are equally antagonistic, with their followers signaling their allegiance by wearing white or red roses.
Henry VI is crowned in Paris, and orders York and Somerset to fight the French instead of each other. As they squabble, French forces kill Talbot and his son. The English army captures and executes Joan. Suffolk arranges a marriage between Henry and Margaret, daughter of the king of Naples, in order to keep her near him and give him, though her, control of England.
Early printed texts
Henry VI, Part 1 was first published in the 1623 First Folio and that text serves as the source for all subsequent editions of the play.
Picturing Henry VI, Part 1
As part of an NEH-funded project, the Folger digitized thousands of 18th-, 19th-, and early 20th-century images representing Shakespeare’s plays. Some of these images show actors in character, while others show the plays as if they were real-life events—telling the difference isn't always easy. A selection of images related to 1 Henry VI is shown below, with links to our digital image collection.
More images of 1 Henry VI can be seen in our digital image collection. (Because of how they were cataloged, some images from other plays might appear in the image searches linked here, so always check the sidebar to see if the image is described as part of a larger group.)